Biennial event gives BASF opportunity to showcase latest product innovations to industry trade press.
Innovation is essential to the success of every commercial enterprise, regardless if it’s a multi-national corporation or a family-owned pest control business. That’s because without innovation, there would be no progress.
If not for the introduction of enhanced application techniques and new active ingredients, for instance, PMPs would still be controlling cockroaches and termites the same way they did in the 1950s.
In order to advance and prosper all businesses must innovate, including one as massive as BASF, the international brand that tops Chemical & Engineering News’ Global Top 50 ranking of the world’s largest chemical companies.
BASF, just like a local pest control firm trying to meet payroll every week, must “dream the future,” according to Research Executive Director Andreas Kreimeyer, speaking at the company’s 2014 North American Media Summit in June. “You have to reinvent your company every day.”
That is exactly what BASF is doing to protect its market position, investing more than $1.8 billion annually in global R&D activities, with 25 percent of its capital expenditures earmarked for North America. “Innovation is our lifeblood,” Kreimeyer observed, and investing in that “lifeblood” requires both time and resources.
The 2014 BASF Media Summit, a biennial affair, focused on the theme “Linking Innovations That Yield Results,” reinforcing the company’s role as an industry advocate for sustainable agriculture, with executives sharing how BASF’s innovation pipeline is assisting farmers, PMPs and landscape professionals in controlling a wide array of pests.
And what better venue to host the three-day event than the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club, an award-winning hotel on the sprawling Duke University campus in central North Carolina, home to one of the most robust agricultural economies in the United States. North Carolina ranks eighth overall in total agricultural production and Research Triangle Park (RTP) — home to BASF’s North American Crop Protection Business — is an important contributor to the state’s economy. And a key contributor to BASF’s Crop Protection Business is the Pest Control Solutions Group, which boasts such well-known brands as Termidor, Alpine and Phantom.
Nevin McDougall, senior vice president, North American Crop Protection, said BASF has made a “long-term commitment to the pest control industry,” working closely with more than 3,700 PMPs in recent years, with each providing “critical insights” about the marketplace, in addition to valuable input on how BASF can better meet the industry’s product needs.
McDougall is optimistic about the future of the industry, which experienced a 5.8 percent growth rate in 2013, according to Specialty Products Consultants. But in order for the industry to continue to thrive and prosper, it must stay abreast of consumer trends, he said, particularly as it relates to public attitudes about pesticides and how they are applied.
“The opportunities in our market are very positive,” McDougall said, but PMPs and industry suppliers like BASF must be responsive to “the voice of the consumer. We have to think of the consumer as a key stakeholder in the products we’re bringing to market. These industries (structural pest control, landscape management) need innovations and those needs fit nicely into where we’re investing.”
In addition to market insights from BASF’s upper management, the Media Summit featured a number of break-out sessions — including one for the Pest Control Solutions Group — and a visit to the company’s Holly Springs Research Farm, as well as a cooking demonstration by Iron Chef Cat Cora, who participated in a panel discussion on the future of food and agriculture.
During a tour of the Holly Springs Research Farm, 30 minutes from the company’s RTP headquarters location, attendees learned about the latest additions to the Termidor family of products.
Fifteen years ago, BASF introduced Termidor to the North American pest control market, followed in quick succession by a number of other formulations of fipronil, the active ingredient in Termidor, including Termidor DRY Termiticide and Termidor Foam Termiticide/Insecticide.
BASF Specialty Products Names New Director
The BASF Media Summit was the industry’s first opportunity to meet Jon Sweat, the new director of BASF Specialty Products. Sweat replaced Jan Buberl, who took on a new assignment within BASF.
A graduate of Kansas State University, Sweat grew up on a small family farm near Smith Center, Kan., where he gained an early appreciation for nature and the important role pesticides play in protecting our nation’s food supply, in addition to public health. “I saw first-hand how pesticides improve crop yields,” he said, “allowing the United States to be the bread basket of the world.”
Sweat started his career at American Cyanamid Co. (now BASF) as a technical service intern each summer during college. Following graduation, he took over the role as technical service representative for American Cyanamid’s crop protection group in Southwest Iowa.
Since that time, he has held various management position with BASF in technical service, marketing and sales, with his most recent position being director of sales for the company’s U.S. Crop Protection business, based in Denver, Colo.
“I’m looking forward to continuing to bring BASF product innovations to the pest management industry,” he said. “I’ve heard great things about this market.”
In recent years, BASF has invested time and money in enhancing the application efficiency of Termidor through the introduction of Termidor H-E High-Efficiency Termiticide and the long-awaited Termidor H-P High-Precision Injection System.
Termidor H-E High-Efficiency Term-iticide features a proprietary blend of polymers that temporarily boosts transport of fipronil in the soil, creating an “Enhanced Protection Zone” around a structure using less water, smaller trenches, wider drill hole and rod spacing, and shallower treatment depths, according to Jon Sweat, director, BASF Specialty Products. “For PMPs, this means increased profitability through improved productivity, more efficient use of equipment and resources, and better business flexibility.”
The Termidor H-P High-Precision Injection System continues BASF’s commitment to innovation by precisely controlling the amount of termiticide injected into the soil, creating a more uniform treatment zone with minimal disruption of landscaping. “The Termidor H-P System uses a revolutionary application device to target the primary termite activity zones, while eliminating the need for most trenching and rodding,” Sweat said.
To ensure accuracy and consistency, the injection system is equipped with a digital onboard computer that prevents over or under usage of termiticide by providing treatment readings within a tenth of an ounce. As a result, “the success of the termiticide treatment is no longer reliant on the mixing accuracy of the operator,” Sweat said. “Instead, Termidor H-P mixes the termiticide and water onboard, providing an exact, finished dilution concentration for accurate treatment of structures.”
“The Termidor H-P System requires less drilling, less patching and less treatment time, but the same amount of active ingredient is applied,” added Bob Hickman, market development specialist, BASF. The unit features three different injection settings — high, medium and light — to accommodate various soil types found in the U.S., and “it won’t damage phone lines and irrigation systems,” he observed.
In short, “it takes the guesswork out of termiticide applications,” observed Dr. Freder Medina, market development specialist, BASF.
The H-P System communicates via a Bluetooth connection and onboard GPS, so PMPs “know exactly where the unit is in the field at all times. It has everything but a cup holder,” Medina said with a laugh.
“It’s a state-of-the-art system,” Hickman added. “You can check the GPS to see where they are on their route…and you can immediately see how much product each individual technician has put out.” Hickman indicated the Termidor H-P System is so efficient service technicians will be able to treat four homes in the time it took them to treat a single home in the past.
BASF leases the system to PMPs and provides all education and training. Five companies are currently using the system, with a total of 25 additional units expected in the field by the end of the year. “It’s the future of termite treatments,” said Melissa Koenig, product manager, BASF.
All of the innovations relating to Termidor H-E and Termidor H-P “center around improved application,” added Markus Heldt, president, Crop Protection Division. “With these innovations we can defend our strong position in the North American market,” despite fipronil coming off patent in 2010. “We’re proud of our company’s willingness to invest in these innovations.”
BASF also updated attendees on the company’s Alpine product line. The active ingredient in Alpine, dinotefuran, is a neonicotinoid that has been granted Reduced Risk status by EPA. Recent enhancements to the portfolio include:
- Alpine WSG Water Soluble Granule Insecticide is flexible, allowing applications inside and out — even off structure — including curative broadcast treatments for ants and fleas, all with no reapplication interval limitations.
- A ready-to-use formulation that is fast-acting and convenient to apply, PT Alpine Pressurized Fly Bait complements existing fly solutions by providing an additional layer of fly control for problem areas. It can be used in both residential and commercial settings, applied as area, band or spot treatment applications. The formulation dries clear and leaves behind no odor.
“We’re blessed to have two products (Alpine and Termidor) with the Transfer Effect because not every product exhibits this characteristic,” which is so effective against social insects like ants, Hickman said. “Termidor is limited to two treatments a year, but with this product (Alpine) you’re not. We can now spot treat a nest with Alpine WSG.”
In addition to ongoing enhancements to its current portfolio, BASF also announced during the Media Summit an exclusive agreement with Mitsui Chemicals Agro (MCAG) to develop and license a new insecticide for the pest management industry.
Under terms of the agreement, MCAG granted BASF a worldwide, exclusive license to commercialize the yet-to-be named insecticide, except in Japan and some other countries where MCAG will hold the exclusive and/or co-exclusive rights.
Featuring a new mode of action, the active ingredient will provide PMPs with an important rotation tool in managing insect resistance, according to Heldt. “It’s a very promising, very novel chemistry,” he said. “We (currently) have a very high standard for termite control,” Heldt said, “but we also know products have a life cycle and innovation complements that life cycle.”
Intended use applications for the new active ingredient include various urban pests including termites, ants, cockroaches and flies. “This new, highly effective active ingredient enhances BASF’s insecticide pipeline, providing complementary chemistry to our current and future solutions,” Heldt said.
Both firms intend to develop unique formulations of the active ingredient for specific markets and applications, including the structural pest control industry. Significant research over the next three years will continue, with the first registration submission in the U.S. expected in 2017.
In a one-on-one interview with PCT on the final day of the Media Summit, BASF’s Nevin McDougall said he expects pest control to be a “long-term growth industry” for the company. “With some creative technology (like the Termidor H-P System) we can recreate the marketplace,” he said. “The challenge for us is to continue meeting our customers’ needs, while constantly innovating.” — Dan Moreland, PCT Publisher
BASF Media Summit Slide Show
To check out a slide show of photographs from the BASF Media Summit, including photos of celebrity chef Cat Cora and the Holly Springs Research Farm tour, visit www.pctonline.com.